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Reducing weight gain in people with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and first episode psychosis: describing the process of developing the STructured lifestyle Education for People With SchizophrEnia (STEPWISE) intervention

Carey, Marian E and Barnett, Janette and Doherty, Yvonne and Barnard, Katherine and Daly, Heather and French, Paul and Gossage-Worrall, Rebecca and Hadjiconstantinou, Michelle and Hind, Daniel and Mitchell, Jonathan and Northern, Alison and Pendlebury, John and Rathod, Shanaya and Shiers, David and Taylor, Cheryl and Holt, Richard IG (2018) Reducing weight gain in people with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and first episode psychosis: describing the process of developing the STructured lifestyle Education for People With SchizophrEnia (STEPWISE) intervention. Pilot and Feasibility Studies, 4 (1).

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Abstract

Background Obesity is twice as common in people with schizophrenia as the general population and associated with significantly worsened psychiatric and physical health. Despite National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines for the management of psychosis recommending that mental health services offer lifestyle programmes to people with schizophrenia to improve physical health, this is not currently occurring. The aim of the STEPWISE research programme was to develop a lifestyle intervention addressing obesity and preventing weight gain in people with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or first episode psychosis taking antipsychotic medication, through an approach and fundamental principles drawn from existing diabetes and diabetes prevention interventions. This paper describes the often under-reported process of developing such an intervention from first principles. Methods Following an extensive literature review, an iterative cycle of development with input from people with schizophrenia, mental healthcare professionals, facilitators, and other stakeholders, a new weight management intervention for the target group was developed. A set of four core weekly sessions was piloted in Sheffield, followed at 3-monthly intervals by three booster sessions and telephone support contact once every 2 weeks, to form an intervention lasting 12 months. Facilitators were provided with a 4-day training package to support delivery of the intervention. Results This paper reports the process of development, including challenges and how these were addressed. It describes how user input influenced the structure, topics, and approach of the intervention. The outcome of this process was a feasible and acceptable lifestyle intervention to support people with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or first episode psychosis to manage their weight. This pilot provided opportunities for refinement of the intervention and facilitator training prior to testing in a multi-centre randomised controlled trial. Key findings from the pilot were linked to accessibility, focus, uptake, and retention, which influenced session length, travel arrangements, refreshment, breaks, and supporting tools to incentivise participants. Conclusions The STEPWISE intervention has been evaluated in a randomised controlled trial in 10 mental health trusts in England, and the results will be published in the British Journal of Psychiatry and the NIHR Journals Library.

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